Performance and four driven wheels on a lower budget.
For the first time, the 2021 BMW M3 sedan and 2021 BMW M4 coupe will offer M xDrive as an available option for the Competition models. These cars will use the same 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six found in the rear-wheel-drive models, but with 503 horsepower going out to all four wheels, the xDrive models are even quicker taking just 3.4 seconds to hit 60 mph. When the driver wants to execute tail slides and smokey burnouts, the Active M differential can send 100% of the engine's power to the rear wheels only.
BMW expects more than 60% of M3 and M4 customers to opt for AWD since it will make both models easier to drive in inclement weather. Pricing for the xDrive models starts at $77,895 for the M3 and $79,795 for the M4. But if you're seeking an AWD performance car for much less, we've come up with seven affordable used alternatives.
Since the M3 and M4 have never offered an AWD variant, there are no used models to look at. F90 M5 prices have recently dipped below the $80,000 mark, but not by enough to warrant inclusion on this list. Check back in another year or so. But if you want an all-wheel-drive BMW M car and don't care about the RWD mode, a used X3 M or X4 M could be a great option. These M-powered crossovers come with M xDrive as standard, powered by the same S58 twin-turbo inline-six as the latest M3 and M4.
Though these models haven't been on the market for long, used prices have already dipped below $60,000, which is a sizable saving over a new one. As with their sedan and coupe counterparts, the X3 M and X4 M produce 473 hp in the standard guise of 503 hp in Competition spec. These cars aren't as nice to drive as the M3/M4, but they offer more practicality.
Aside from the original 2014 RWD model, all V8-powered Jaguar F-Type variants send their power to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The F-Type's supercharged 5.0-liter V8 produces 550 hp, making it the most powerful model on this list. 0-60 mph takes only around 3.6 seconds, putting it in close proximity to the new M3 and M4 xDrive. But while new M3/M4 owners will deal with the controversy surrounding the massive kidney grille, F-Type owners get to be seen in one of the prettiest modern sports cars of the 21st century.
Even with the biggest engine available, used V8 F-Type R models are now available in the low-$40,000 price range.
Next to the F-Type, the Nissan GT-R is the second-most powerful sports car on this list, assuming you purchase one from the correct year. While the original R35 GT-R produced 485 hp from its 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6, the 2012 model year increased that figure to 530 hp, then again to 545 hp in 2013. Impressively, a few of these post-power-increase GT-R models are currently available for less than $70,000. These earlier GT-R models are still quick to this day, posting 0-60 mph times of around 3.2 to 3.4 seconds.
BMW may have recently adopted AWD on its high-performance models, but Audi has been preaching the benefits of four driven wheels for decades. The original V8-powered RS5 coupe and convertible as well as the current-generation RS5 Coupe and Sportback epitomize comfortable Quattro AWD performance. You can snag a V8 RS5 for under $30,000, but if you want comparable performance to a new M3 or M4, the newer twin-turbo V6 models are much quicker.
The two-door Coupe and five-door Sportback models each use a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 that's shared with Porsche, producing 444 hp. The sprint to 60 mph takes only 3.5 seconds, nearly matching the M3 and M4 with xDrive despite having less power. Prices for the coupes have dipped into the mid-$50,000 range, while the Sportback still commands over $60,000.
Like the RS5, the Audi TT RS is also a laugh riot. Its unique 2.5-liter five-cylinder produces 394 hp and one of the best exhaust notes available on a turbocharged car. Though it's less powerful than other models on this list, the TT's smaller size allows the RS to break 60 mph in only 3.6 seconds. Prices for the second iteration of the TT RS begin around $55,000, but the original ones are much less expensive and come with a six-speed manual transmission.
Finding one will be an arduous task, but the Volvo S60 and V60 Hybrid Polestar Engineered models are extremely cool and worth tracking down. These latest Volvo Polestar models call upon a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with turbocharging and supercharging, combined with an electric motor to produce a total of 415 hp. That's 15 hp more than the standard S60 and V60 Hybrid, plus the Polestar Engineered variants receive handling upgrades such as Ohlins dampers and Brembo brakes.
Volvo builds very few of these cars, but we managed to find an S60 for $55,000 on the used market. If you can find one, you'll be driving a rare item. A 4.5-second 60 mph sprint isn't nearly as quick as other models on this list, but the Polestar-tuned S60 and V60 offer over 20 miles of electric-only driving and are unique enough to sacrifice a bit of performance.
There is a near-endless supply of Porsche 911 models with AWD for less than the price of a new BMW, so we decided to narrow it down to one option, the 996 911 Turbo. These models were once comically affordable but the market has since caught on and prices have been rising lately. We told you so. It used to be possible to nab a manual coupe for under $40,000 but now you will be lucky to find a nice one for less than $60,000.
Power comes from a 3.6-liter twin-turbo flat-six producing 415 hp, hitting 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Used prices may not rise much more than they already have but the 996 Turbo seems like a safe investment that won't depreciate, unlike other cars on this list.
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